Dec 18, 2013


Teen picking out a movie to watch from a row of dvds

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings such as R, PG-13, PG, and G are discussed and decided by a group of 12 parents in southern California. They each have their own children under the age of 30. 

Given that, why has there been an increase in violent and explicit material allowed on-screen to younger audiences?  Not only are films becoming more violent and racy but there is a higher percentage of PG-13 and R-rated movies being produced.

Between 1995 and 2011, PG-13 and R-rated movies were the trend among filmmakers. There were 4,300 PG-13 and R-rated movies produced in the last 16 years--while there were only 1,200 PG and G movies produced in that same time span.  However, PG-13 and R movies averaged $29 million in box office earnings and PG and G averaged $38.4 million per show. That's about $9 million more in revenue, on the average.

It seems an inconsistent trend that although PG and G rated movies do better in theaters, movie producers are making more PG-13 and R-rated movies. 

Over time, there have been several studies on movie ratings and their popularity.  Keith Merrill, an award-winning filmmaker can confirm, “Every study ever done confirms that R-rated movies are less than half as likely as PG releases to get their money back and earn a profit.” 

Why do filmmakers continue to make PG-13 and R-rated films? According to movie critics, there could be a couple of factors contributing to this.

Chris Hicks, a columnist and movie critic, attributes these trends to Hollywood filmmakers’ liberal thinking.  The cultural values and acceptable norms have shifted over the years, which are reflected in the box office numbers. As with anyone and their peers, filmmakers want to be respected and admired. In the movie industry, to be viewed as a serious filmmaker it requires the production of edgier films.

Betsy Bozdech, another movie critic and director of Common Sense Media, has a different view. She feels that movies are only produced if they are destined to sell. Bozdeck says the current trends show that what people want are PG-13 and R movies; once people want PG and G movies, filmmakers will start producing more.

The effect of inappropriate media on children is long-lasting. Parents should remain conscious of media trends and protect your children from seeing inappropriate content. Whether it is on the computer, the home TV, or in theaters, there are a number of ways to prevent children from viewing such content.

Net Nanny is an internet safety software that can block vulgar content on the Internet and give parents control over what their children are allowed access. 

Other sites available to parents are:



Mara Mahaffey